How blind people use websites (video with Sina Bahram, blind accessibility researcher)
162 million people worldwide are blind or visually impaired at a level that does not allow to read texts. An unbelievable high, but official number. And a significant (and demographicly increasing) percentage of these people is using websites, exactly like everybody else. Communicating, shopping, news-reading, movie-watching, downloading stuff. These who are not using the web live under poorest conditions, are very old ((semi-)blindness is a typical senior’s desease) or have serious mental handicaps. This leads to a very interesting question: How do blind people use the web – and what can we (as developers) do to make blind people’s web activities much easier ?
This video shows (one possibility of) how blind people use the web; note that this really sympathic guy (Sina Bahram, an accessibility researcher, find his twitter feed here) reads everything in an awesome speed – much faster than non-blind people are able to read websites (!). Sina also shows a hard-to-read page, full of HTML table markup used for layouting, not for showing a real table. This is probably the best example ever to prove why it is and always was bad to use tables for HTML layouts. Excellent stuff, every developer should see this.
For further reading: http://accessibleinsights.info
And another interesting YouTube clip: How blind people use the Web (shows usage of Facebook!)
Final note: I think I broke a lot of accessablity guidelines within this article. If blind or visually impaired people read this: Sorry guys, I promise that my next article on this topic will go deep into details and fulfil every possible accessability rule. ;)